Wednesday October 23 2013
Milan’s lions halt Barca

Milan claimed a 1-1 draw with Barcelona at the San Siro, leaving them well placed at the halfway mark of the Champions League group stage. Luca Cetta wraps up the action.

A last-minute Adriano Galliani transfer coup, a slow start to the season and meetings with Barcelona. We’ve come to accept these Milan-related occurrences in recent seasons. Kaka’s arrival and 11 points from eight games made it two from three. The Champions League draw completed the sweep, for the seventh meeting between the Rossoneri and Barcelona in three seasons. These two historical giants are as close as a pair of magnets.

Milan’s win over Barca in last season’s Round of 16 first leg was the best European win of Massimiliano Allegri’s time in charge. It was defensively disciplined and clinical. Then, the Diavoli were in roaring form. This time they arrived on the back of a lacklustre, but crucial, lone-goal win over Udinese – just their third Serie A triumph. The European adventure started just as shakily – two late goals downing Celtic, before a last-gasp draw with Ajax. How then would Milan deny Barcelona?

They needed a repeat tactical performance. “We chose Kaka because our objective is to stay tight and cover the forward runs of their full-backs, especially Dani Alves,” assistant Mauro Tassotti said prior. “That is our idea, to play with the whole team within a 30-metre gap and try to make it difficult for Barcelona.”

Make life difficult they did. The Gazzetta dello Sport today called them ‘Lions’ and a team who showed ability and heart. It looked nothing like the side which has stuttered through eight Serie A fixtures. For Allegri, this game took the same pattern as the February clash. “It followed the same path as last season’s game, even if we defended a little deeper this time, but had more scoring opportunities.”

Marco Amelia was in goal for his first season appearance due to Christian Abbiati’s injury, but even against a side with the attacking quality of Barcelona – only shut-out for the first time in 65 matches against Osasuna at the weekend – he looked comfortable.

Those ahead did their roles too. The Rossoneri defended stoutly with numbers behind the ball and offered the Spanish champions few clear-cut chances. One occasion they got it wrong – Cristian Zapata’s pass was cut out and Lionel Messi afforded too much room – they were made to pay.

In his first Champions League match for the club since March 2008, Kaka provided a valuable attacking outlet. There even looked a hint of the 2006-07 Kaka as he charged at Gerard Pique and Co. Not only that, the No 22 also put in a solid defensive shift. Allegri praised the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner, while he later thanked the crowd for their support. “All this affection really helps and is more motivation. I hear them sing every time I step on to the field and there was a really special atmosphere at San Siro tonight. It’s the right place for me to play well.”

Fellow Brazilian Robinho was another to impress. He was Milan’s best player – according to the Gazzetta – and netted a crucial goal, aided by Kaka and a suspect Barcelona defence. It can only be a good sign for the Rossoneri that both played as they did. Robinho may even have won it shortly after the interval, missing a gilt-edged chance.

It leaves Milan unbeaten and second in Group H. Allegri’s men have five points, two behind Barcelona and two ahead of Celtic. Their trip to Celtic Park on Matchday 5 looks the vital showdown, but before that comes a trip to the Nou Camp. Gerardo Martino insists his side did enough to win last night and will look to put that right in the return.

The upcoming weeks will be important for Milan’s season, with a tricky set of domestic fixtures before visiting Spain. They’ll hope this performance can be the spur for the second half of the group stage, with qualification very much still in their hands.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
This is not an assumption BOSS, it is a conclusion based on many top coaches' and players' comments over the last few years of Barca dominance. Admitting your are not up to par with them doesn't mean you're not ambitious, you're just honest. Anyway, my "lions" fell again in Parma (construction problems I guess), but the good news is my home team clinched top spot in the West: Go Timbers ! :)
on the 27th October, 2013 at 6:05pm

That's where the problem is, you wrongly assume most people would be happy drawing with barca.

Only un ambitious teams are happy with a draw. I do think Milan are no longer ambitious and that is reinforced by them being happy with a draw, you're an example.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 4:00pm

I agree with points of both sides of your argument

Whilst I feel that we have a greedy owner who is reluctant to spend cash, I accept that Milan are a business and they are trying to operate in a sustainable way.

With a developing side we are always going to lose players to other teams who are prepared to pay for them, everyone has a price and if they decide to cash in then that's business!!
on the 27th October, 2013 at 9:28am

I'm glad to see too that you behaved appropriately.
I think any team on the planet would be satisfied with a draw against this Barca. They play like Spain and they have Messi. I'm lucky I live in a time to witness the best ever team and player.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 1:52am
mm, you mentioned Berlusconi's greed a few times. He might be greedy but I don't think he needs a few millions.
You're right, a team like Milan should not put up with the second best mentality but unfortunately that's the best we can produce at the moment:(
I agree with Viktor that we are in construction phase and that takes time. I'm a patient man but in my view by now we should have seem more results. If this trend continues, by the time the team is built, they'll be too old.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 1:48am
Viktor we had this discussion about my age months ago.. and I told you then I have seen italy win 2 world cups and watched milan dominate thro 90s so please stop coming on here and giving me the wise old man lines.
My point is we shouldnt be putting up with 2nd best. Our home games are as painful as away games. I dont think we have a bright future as we have become the ajax of italy by supplying to big teams due to the greed of our owner. So while your being patient il be real
on the 26th October, 2013 at 9:49pm

Your probably not an adult based on your opinion. Yes we are Milan however drawing against a superior barca is an achievement we are not the Milan we use to be even tho I wish we were. Kaka is 31 turning 32. He could easily be a turning point. You never know. Milan is currently a work in progress.. De scigilio, abate, ses, niang, Gabriel, birsa, lit goes on. Have patience
on the 26th October, 2013 at 5:08pm

I'm glad you clarified your comment.

In that case you and I, along with MM appear to be on the same page, in that Milan's standards have slipped. In fact, the whole of Italy's have, these days most Italian teams would be grateful to draw with barca at home because Italian teams when playing English and Spanish opposition go into survival mode.

Just surviving is enough for Italian teams. That makes the losers happy.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 4:43pm
by bringing kaka back we are stepping back to the old ways of bringing back players that are old and past it. Lets go and bring maldini back and seedorf. I see no achievement in drawing with barca. We are here celebrating that we didnt win. Its ridiculous! We are milan not some 2 bit team who cant win.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 10:09am
mm, what I meant was that it hurts to see the 7 time UEFA champions consider a draw on their home turf a major achievement (Milan's "lions" halt Barca).
Sadly that's where Milan is today.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 3:56am
"If holding Barca back to a draw in your own stadium is an achievement for Milan, well that speaks volumes"

Let me add a bit to aid those who struggle to understand plain English : " ... well that speaks volumes on how low this Milan slipped down the pecking order and how sad that is for such an illustrious club.

Milan did beat Barca last year, they were the first to show how it can be done, PSG almost pulled it off. Few years back Inter knocked them out too.
on the 26th October, 2013 at 1:46am

Let me remind you we made a huuuuge profit in selling and getting him back for basically free. Half the man? Just during the last two games he showed more skills then he did during hes whole period at real.. I except him to be great again. Clearly not as old kaka in Milan but still a leader and a great example for the youth.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 5:16pm

No disrespect, but your post makes me want to strangle you lol.

You're satisfied with drawing with a team. You're elated that your team survived? Your attitude is exactly that of many pathetic fans that have no ambition. Whilst you and your fellow Milan fans celebrate drawing with barca in your own home, bayern and Chelsea fans oh and Celtic fans in recent times go out to beat barca and they do it.

You're a joke. Don't cry about my comments this time I'm not being mean, just saying.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 5:05pm
Well done in pointing out we didnt lose woow what a great achievement! We didnt win no point saying we should have or could have, I should have won the lottery on saturday but didnt! Bottom line is we are not good enough to close games off. The result would have been no diffrent if pazzini matri ses were there. We are not good enough. Suoer we managed to hold barca to a draw will get smacked around in spain tho. Thats the diffrence home games for milan are as painful as away.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 7:34am
Selling players is the harsh reality but its the outright greed of belusconi that annoys me and then they try to shadow the fact they pocketed the money by bringing is some half wit and making him out to be spectacular. Kaka is my prime example a milan legend why bring him back he is literally half the man he used to be. Matri is pure crap. Niang isnt great. Robinho is average. I wouldnt turn down €45m but id invest in quality players.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 7:27am
This Barca set the standard to unimaginable heights in club football, way higher then the Grande Milan who was voted the best club team ever.
If holding Barca back to a draw in your own stadium is an achievement for Milan, well that speaks volumes. Milan may have more silverware but Barca at the moment and for years to come will be the team to beat.

We'll lose at Camp Nou but not by last year's margin.
on the 25th October, 2013 at 5:03am

Don't see how selling players has anything what so ever to do about how the game went against Barca. In general I think 90% of the time Barca always have more possession then the other team. Send a link to any unbiased reliable article claiming Barca should have won. I highly doubt you will find one.

FYI, Italian clubs and I repeat CAN NOT reject offers over 45 millions for players. So selling the likes of thiago and Ibra and kaka and schewa sucked, but that's the bitter reality.
on the 24th October, 2013 at 6:14pm
Viktor and Marc F

You both watched the game i assume so are better placed then me to say which team were dominated.

I was just saying from what i read. Also the ball pos was again in barca's favour.

Yes true ball pos doesnt mean you win the game. But i dont think milan supporters are in any position to be giving Barca football tips, not unless Barca want to become an enourmous joke of a football club that sells its best players and uses "balancing the books" as the reasoning like Milan.
on the 24th October, 2013 at 12:47pm
Great to see Kaka back and contributing, if we can get a few more of the injured players back and keep Kaka playing the season is maybe salvagable. Not that I have any faith in the medical staff these days to be able to do that.

Constant i think deserves some prase for recent solid performances.
on the 24th October, 2013 at 12:21pm
@ Dominator. Clearly you didn't watch as you said but Milan actaully dominated the game in the early going. Barca will always have more possession than most teams but that's not an indicator of dominance.
on the 23rd October, 2013 at 4:46pm

If you didn't watch the game, why the h-ll are you talking. Milan had WAY better chances in winning the game then Barca. 2-3 crystal chances. Robinho should have scored twice and Muntari should have scored.

As urby emanuelsson said in a article, whats the point of possession if your barely move forward and not have a go at it.

Milan played strategical, they let Barca do what they do best, ticky tacka, and then the countered.
on the 23rd October, 2013 at 4:27pm
Well done Napoli. Fairly solid performance by Milan. I thought Zapata was man of the match. Mexes didn't make many mistakes although got pretty easily burnt for the goal (although who hasn't been burnt by Messi). Kaka was great for the Milan goal. Robinho scored but I'm sure Niang/Petagna/Ganz/Paloschi and any other players whose place he has taken could've scored from that assist. All in all positive stuff though. Hopefully we can continue our recovery in the league. Good luck Juve!
on the 23rd October, 2013 at 11:17am
Did anyone else notice how much more sound the defence has looked in the last 2 matches without Abbiati?
on the 23rd October, 2013 at 10:20am
Well done Napoli & Milan! Good luck to Juve! The idea of a 4312 for Juve sounds interesting. I enjoyed Llorente's performance against the Viola & hope that he can do Madrid some damage. I still worry about Madrid's pace & trickery down the flanks. No matter what system Conte uses, it will be very difficult to counter this threat.
on the 23rd October, 2013 at 9:30am
I feel good seeing Milan like that. But if it wasn't for stupid Robinho signature move, Milan would have won.

Good luck to Juve tonight.
on the 23rd October, 2013 at 9:01am
Good win for Napoli, a very tight group any 2 of 3 could qualify. Good result for Milan although they also still have plenty to do to qualify. I question how good Milan where, I think Barca aren't the team of a few years ago. They aren't in Bayurns league that's for sure. Hope Juve can deliver tonight and Buffon answers the critics with a great performance. I think Cesare should call up Bardi to replace Marchetti and Di Biagio promote Leali to 1st choice for under 21s.
on the 23rd October, 2013 at 8:43am

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